Yay! I can finally say that the Shades are really out in the world. 🙂
This series has been a long time coming. If you’ve been around for awhile, you might have seen promises of the Shades of Beckwell back in 2019. Which was when it would have appeared, except… life. I am definitely a “planner” – I love checking off boxes and scheduling things. But with a combination of factors, 2019 – and the of course, 2020 as many people experienced – became swallowed by a void of “well that didn’t go to plan!”
Here, long at last, we have Shade for Love. Plus, since I felt I owed readers for having to wait for so long, two novellas as well! That’s the plan for this series, to alternate longer books – like Shade for Love – with shorter pieces, like Alchemy and Trolled. It means you get more content more frequently, and I’ve found that I love the variety of getting to play with these shorter stories. Plus, more stories! The shorter pieces focus (so far at least) on characters that might be a bit outside the central story line, kind of a “what else is happening while the world is ending?” kind of pieces, and some alternative perspectives. It also allows me to flesh out and play in the world of Beckwell, and I hope you enjoy them as well.
Click here to find the buy links for Shade for Love.
Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? You can sign up here. That’s how you get a hold of Alchemy. 🙂
Did you know that I also love hearing from readers? You can always reach me here, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the books, the characters – and maybe who you think MUST get their own story. Trust me, there are lots in the works!
Thank you for celebrating with me today. Here’s the full cover for Shade for Love, and I look forward to touching base with you here again soon. Until then, wishing you a wonderful week and the ability to find the everyday magic in your world.
How often have you experienced the kind of overwhelm that comes from feeling that there are so many things you “should” be doing, and that list is so long, you end up paralyzed and end up doing nothing?
I recently finished reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle. She talks about how the cages that society creates for us leave us trapped and stifled, often trying to live definitions of ourselves that come from outside of ourselves. (This is definitely paraphrasing. Go read the book yourself to see what I’m trying to get at. )
Anyway, today after reading something from a friend who’s definitely feeling that overwhelm, it made me think: how many of those cages, especially as writers, are we creating for ourselves?
I mean, yes, there are definitely things that we have to do as writers – write books or write something for other people to read being, likely, the number one thing. But other than that, it feels like so many of the definitions of things we “must” and “should” do is a proscribed list that if we actually obeyed it, we’d have no time whatsoever for a life outside of work… and probably no time to write either.
I do wonder if this is perhaps worse among female author-preneurs, or if it’s prevalent everywhere, but if you’re a writer looking to publish and sell your books, you’ve probably heard of some of the things I mean.
You have to be on every social media account that has and will ever be (come on, aren’t you signed up yet for the one that won’t exist until 2023??)
You should be active on all of those social media accounts too (but be fresh! Just be you! Keep it real… as you force yourself to follow all of this advice.)
You must be constantly building relationships with every person out there (forget actual relationships … or, like, family. Nope. No time for that if you’re doing what you “should” be doing.)
Make sure you’re making ads for all of those social media accounts, sell, sell, sell, … but gentle sell, not spam sell.
Plus make sure you’ve got ads running on all the platforms (because if you’re making less than $2k a month, you’re a failure!)
Have you spent thousands of dollars on classes that promise you THIS is the right answer to make you a millionaire and selling millions of a books a day? (Come on, you didn’t think you actually had time to do things, like, write, did you? And wave to your family through your office doors… if you still have one.)
On and on it goes, and you know what? I’m going to stop, because it’s stressing me out.
And it’s driving me nuts. All of it. And I know it’s driving lots of other authors nuts too.
You want to know the real secret?
There is NO secret.
Nope. Sad, isn’t it? Yep, I was looking for it too… along with possibly the drafting or editing fairies that help get books done when things aren’t going well. But, they don’t exist any more than the perfect formula to sell all those books – no matter how much that workshop costs. Game the system? Sure, you can follow those examples, buy up case loads of your own book and “buy” your way onto the lists. You CAN do a lot of things. But what works for Lizzy P. Author may not work the same for you.
You’re not her.
And yes, let me pause and insert here that not all advice is bad advice. Do I take workshops, try to keep learning, try to keep improving in both my writing craft and the business side of my career? Absolutely. Is there lots of great advice and information out there? Yep. That too. Are there many things we can do to tweak our marketing / get better at the business / get better at our craft? Yes, indeed, and there are a few specific ones on my list all the time.
My objection comes when all that advice, when all the things you “should do” stretch into the bars of a cage. When you’re so hemmed in by all those “shoulds” that you feel like you can’t breathe, let alone write the next word, the next sentence, or hardest of all, the next book.
I’ve been there. I fall into that cage every so often. Was there yesterday, as a matter a fact, when all my emails seemed to be screaming at me to “just do this to double your sales” or “just keep up this to guarantee search engine results” and so on. These were legit blogs I follow too, because I usually appreciate their advice. It got me so depressed, I did the bare minimum of words, but tried nothing else, too exhausted by all the “shoulds” that I had to focus on the “could.”
That’s what I usually come back to. What could or CAN I do? What do I WANT to do? And what do I really NEED?
Yesterday, I needed to recharge so I don’t get burned out. I needed to remember there is more to my life than writing.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sometimes we get terrific advice, but we need to be wise enough to recognize when it isn’t the right advice for us. Perhaps it won’t ever be right, perhaps it just isn’t right because of where we are financially / personally / emotionally / whatever. But it’s up to you to stand up for YOU. To recognize that feeling when your chest tightens, your shoulders tense, and the whole world is demanding more and more, or something is telling you that it just isn’t right for you… just tell that advice “no.” (You’re welcome to use stronger language and swears. Swears are fun. 🙂 I’m just trying to be polite.) 😉
Sometimes maybe you’ll need to sit with that feeling for a little while, think about where that resistance to the advice or next “should” is coming from. Maybe it’s child-you deep inside that’s stubbornly insisting “No, I don’t wanna!” And sometimes you need to tell child-you inside that it’s okay, we can still do scary things that will just make us stronger. So sometimes you try some of those things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
But you pick and choose which of those things you try. Ignore the others. Cut down on the blogs and other input you take in that feeds into that stress and fills your head with Shoulds. Connect with people in your field and outside of it, people who care about you, that can help pull you back from the madness of trying to do all the things all the time. You don’t let the Should-Army flatten you down and stop you from doing what you need to do.
And if you’re a writer, you need to write.
You’ll do that too at your own pace, in your own way. You’ll find ways to reclaim and hold tight to the joy of pure creation that is the work, that is writing, because there are days when it won’t feel that way. But you, you will write.
Did you know that I started this blog way back in 2010? Nope, me neither. I’ve just finished going through all of those posts weeding out things from when I was a super-clueless baby-writer…although I’ve also found some advice that I still believe (like being good to other people and author karma, along with writing strength-training) along with advice that my past self was either trying to tell me, or maybe I needed to hear now.
So…I also find that I haven’t been any more regular with my posts than I am now. Or rather, I used to be much more regular with the posts early on, but I’ve taken a tumble or two off the cliff and, for example, this is the first post I’ve done for 2019 (oops!)
I find retrospective interesting in what it tells us about where we’re been, and in many ways, where we’re headed too, sometimes for better AND worse. What’s changed for me since 2010?
I now have two children, both lovely daughters who are creative and wonderful (except when they’re bickering, because ugh!)
I’ve published FOUR books. Yes, I can hardly believe that either. Back in 2010, Indie Publishing definitely wasn’t on my radar, and even when it finally got there, I always wanted to go traditional first, then maybe indie to become hybrid (and not just because going hybrid sounds a bit like some kind of super-cool werewolf-shifter.) 😉
Back in 2010 I’d only been part of RWA (Romance Writers’ of America) for two years, and just attended my first Conference. Since then, I’ve attended almost one a year since 2014, and every second year before that. I’ve become part of now only an RWA chapter, but I’m currently chapter president, which is something I’d never have dreamed of back then, especially the benefit of all the connections and friends I’ve since made in the industry.
I’ve had the opportunity in recent years to begin to pay back some of that author karma I talked about way-back-when. I’m still a little fish, but what I didn’t realize back then is that little fish can still make waves, still make a difference, and that’s what I try to do.
What hasn’t changed all that much?
I still believe in magic, and I want to believe that there’s more in the world than meets the eye. I’ve expanded my personal definition of magic though, as I also try to see – and appreciate – the magic in the everyday world that all too often dismissed or forgetten.
I am still probably more stubborn than is actually healthy for me. When I was looking up tags for this article, perseverance is one of my most used tags, and for good reason. I wrote my stories and this blog even when no one was reading (it is entirely likely that no one is reading this one either, but let’s just keep that between you and me, hmm?) Perseverance and tenacity have kept me going when I have done revision after revision. When I almost completely rewrote my first book in edit to get it into the kind of shape I could put out there for public consumption.
Conference is still one of my favorite events of the year, it still exhausts me, but I still try to make the most out of every day, every experience, no matter what. This means that even when things go wrong (as things inevitably try to do) I still keep the mindset to enjoy myself, to not let myself get down. I’d love to say I can maintain this same mindset in all areas of my life, but that’s not so easy. Which leads to the next point…
I am still a work in progress. And that’s okay. I’m not perfect, I never will be, but that won’t hold me back from continuing to grow and improve (or at least, I try to make sure it doesn’t.) 🙂
I will still promise to try to blog regularly…and there is every likelihood I will try but possibly fail. 😉
Now this comes to you, since it’s rude if I do all the talking. If you look back – to 2010, further or perhaps closer in your past – how have you grown, changed and evolved? Are you reading? If you are, come on, keep me company and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
I am tired. Tired of winter and long dark days, outside and in. Tired of waiting for good news, and receiving rejections. Tired of trying to believe in possibilities and forcing optimism.
And of course, when you’re tired, it leaves the door wide open for those buggers doubt and fear. It lets them sneak up on you and seep like grease stains into all aspects of your life. One rejection becomes a rejection from the world. Which is ridiculous, the logical part of my brain knows, and yet it’s the reptilian part, all that doubt and fear taking control, that whispers bad things.
It would be easy, ever so easy to just step away. To say I’m “taking a break” and slowly, without quite realizing it, just stop writing. It would start with one skipped day – you know, the kind you can “catch up on.” Then it would be another, because you need to be kind to yourself. And then a week or two missed. And then a month. And suddenly, you’d find you hadn’t been writing anymore. That it had all dried up.
And so, on days like that, on days like THIS, it is even more important to sit down in front of that computer, to put the fingers to the keyboard and ignore all those nasty whispers, and just write. Write if you are tired, write BECAUSE you are tired. But just keep writing, words in the dark, words to yourself, words to prove those whispers and the reptilian brain wrong.
Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a brighter week with melting snow and hopes of spring. 🙂
There is one word that appears in almost all craft books on writing – and especially on making a business and life with your writing: Perseverance.
I have come to both love and loathe the word. And all that it means. Especially that as the years (yes, years) pass, it comes to take on deeper meaning.
When you first start out planning to enter the business, perseverance seems more like “patience.” Have patience for how slow some things in the industry are. With yourself and how long it may take you to finish a draft, improve your craft, settle into your voice, etc. What this means is that while you have to wait, there’s still some guarantee of success in the end.
As you enter into the middle phase, you realize that perseverance isn’t just being patient and waiting, it can become a battle to survive. Beside and around you are fallen comrades, other writers, as talented (perhaps more so) than yourself, and yet they have inexplicably stopped writing. And then it happens to you, and you realize how one day missing writing, then a week, then a month, and suddenly, you haven’t been writing. And easier still, (since writers tend to be a neurotic sort in my experience – personal and otherwise), then the voices start in that suggest if you’re not writing and doing what “real writers” do, then “obviously,” you are not a writer. And this battle lengthens, coming in ebbs and flows of great resistance and high flights of fantasy where you imagine you can see the end of this steady war of attrition.
And then you enter another phase, where you come to realize that perseverance isn’t just a battle to be won or lost. It isn’t patiently waiting for guaranteed success at the end. Because there is no such thing as guaranteed success – and indeed, the odds of some definitions of “success” are rare indeed. And this, then, is the phase where you decide WHY you write. And why you MUST write. And these are the days when you sit down in front of the computer and you steadily add to your word count, rewrite and revise that manuscript, send out the submissions, and start a new book, not because you “know” success is waiting in the next reply, but because that is just what you do. And you write because writing is part of you, and in some ways, there isn’t all that much choice in the matter. Perseverance becomes part of life, a steady waiting game where there is no clock, and where the race is with yourself. Survival depends on inner determination and sometimes sheer stubbornness to keep writing new words, to keep reminding yourself that you’re a writer, and therefore you write.
Been there? Love to hear from you. 🙂
Keep writing out there. Keep adding to those word counts. And thanks for stopping by and reading.
It’s scarcely 1/6 of the way through the year (17%), and I begin to wonder if I can achieve what I set out to do, if this will be another year when I try hard, but nothing seems to come of it. More rejections, and I fear contest entries were more like throwing away money. In short, self-doubt and depression come calling.
What about you? Have you fallen off the goal-wagon? Are you, like me, frustrated with your progress in life and career?
There are 10 more months left to reach those goals – that’s 83% of the year.
It’s winter. Everything sucks in winter – that’s not your fault, so don’t let it suck you in.
Spring is right around the corner. No, really. Those snow drifts will melt away just like the resistance you’re feeling right now; bright green buds will sprout, along with new opportunity and hope you didn’t think existed.
Things have to be crappy sometimes so we appreciate when wonderful things happen. That means wonderful things are right around the corner.
Your life is full of blessings and wonderful treasures – even if your immediate goal is still out of reach. Take the opportunity to open your eyes and appreciate what you have, what life is RIGHT NOW, instead of what you want it to be.
Change is hard. Growth can be accompanied by growing pains. Just wait until you see what comes next.
This gully is just part of the road you’re on. You are NOT the road. The vista will look brighter from the top of that next hill.
Maybe it’s the dull day, maybe it’s a lot of other things, but I’ve been feeling pretty down about my writing lately, which led me to go back to my list. I think most of us – no matter what goal we strive for and continue to fight to achieve – sometimes feel like the battle is all up hill for too long, and you’re somewhere near the bottom, stuck in the mud (or maybe that’s just me, who knows). Anyway, what helps – and the advice I’ve seen for most long-term goals whether weight-loss or publication dreams – is to make yourself a list of all the reasons you can’t quit. Or if you like, perhaps it’s a list of why you started on the path to your goal. Whatever the case, it becomes a list of why you can’t quit. If the quest for the same goal continues on for a very long time, I imagine some of the reasons may change, or perhaps no longer apply, but they’re still important.
I thought today – since I was looking at it – I’d share my list, perhaps to inspire you to start one of your own. It’s easier than you think, since I’m only asking for ten reasons to start with (if you want to move up to twenty or fifty, bravo, and keep at it). But for now, let’s start with ten. If you’re in the down-swing of mud-slogging, than it may feel pretty hard coming up with any reasons not to quit. So, here’s how to anyway. Start with the title: Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Quit …. [insert your goal – mine was writing]. Then number the page 1 to 10. Then start filling in each number. Allow yourself the freedom of “stupid” or “obvious” reasons – especially for the first few. Just because they’re obvious doesn’t make them bad, and you can replace them later if you come up with something better. But, just fill in those 10. Okay, get started, I’ll wait ….
Okay, did you do it? Do you have your 10? Sign and date it on the bottom – it’s helpful sometimes to know when you last needed this list, and how current it is. Now either post or put it somewhere you can find and refer to easily. Especially on the hard days. And remember, not every day will be a hard day – there are always better ones ahead. And use your ten reasons to keep you strong, or at least keep you pushing along even on the days you are stuck in the mud at the bottom of the hill.
Here are my ten, completed just as I suggested you do yours.
Ten Reasons I Can’t Quit Writing
Writing is a part of me. I wouldn’t feel complete or satisfied without it.
Only those who don’t quit, who persevere, can succeed.
It’s my dream to be published, to have readers other than just a close few.
I want to make money doing what I love.
I want to be an example to my children that you can follow your dreams and passion, and succeed: you don’t have to compromise.
I want to be an example to my children of the merits of patience and perseverance (and that there is reward after all the hard parts.)
I want to tell my stories, and I want my voice to be heard.
I want to prove to myself and to those who have supported me that I can stick it out, I can be true to myself, AND I can succeed – and they can, too.
My stories and my vision are unique, and deserve to be shared and showcased.
I want to be one of the few. The few writers who persevere and succeed; the few people who follow their dreams and inner passion; the few people who don’t sell-out or compromise their lives.
– S.C. Chalmers, August 14, 2011
What are your goals? What are your reasons? Is there a general theme to them? What does it say about you – I showed you mine, so what about you? Please comment below.
This morning I read a blog post that I wanted to share because I think it’s something we all need to consider, especially if trying to succeed in an industry like publishing, or the arts, or … well really, if you want to succeed at anything, accomplish a particular dream, I don’t suppose it matters what industry you’re in.
For me, it arrived at a fortunate time since it’s the end of the month, and in my accidental-wasn’t-planning-to-make-them goals for 2012, I’m trying to stick to sending out at least 3 queries a month, which usually means it falls on the last Monday or Wednesday of the month. Anyway, sending out things like queries can seem a very daunting task, since it always seems to take far more time than you anticipate, and there is that fear that it won’t get the result you desire anyway.
So, onto the blog post by Lara Shiffbauer. Go read her post first, then come back … okay, did you read it? Did you come back?
Anyway, she talks about the big-brother to perseverance, or at the very least, another close relative: tenacity. This being that you stick to what you’re doing without doubting the principle / reasons why you’re sticking with it. It means you can’t second-guess the quality of your work, the potential for failure (or success), all the insidious kinds of “what-ifs” that can assail us. And as I mentioned before, while “what if” can be a terrific friend when we’re working on a piece of fiction, it’s a dark and wily foe if you bring it into real life (you know, the same kind of thing that makes you wonder the horrible reasons your spouse is late, when really, they’re just picking up milk? Yep, that’s Mr. Not-so-nice What-if.)
Really, if you consider it, the questioning of our style of writing, the quality, the marketability, our potential for success, etc, etc, etc, while we do need to assess this at least a little I think, too much assessment (that becomes obsession or brooding), will quickly become the enemy of perseverance. Afterall, what’s the point continuing to fight onward if you’re just going to fail anyway?
Because you can’t succeed if you give up.
When I gloomily suggest all queries will result in rejections (uhoh – getting into superlative and unhelpful description like “always” and “never” isn’t good), he’s quick to point out that they certainly can’t say yes if they didn’t get a query.
So, how do you need to keep on pushing? How could blind tenacity help you where perseverance might fail? What kind of queries or cold-calls do you have to make to make sure someone on the other end can say yes?
All right. So, earlier I had a post that discussed how we determine our own experience, not outside forces, and today’s post considers something related: how our thoughts can determine us, if we let them.
Are you confused? First I tell you to think yourself happy, and now I’m telling you that’s dangerous?
Admittedly, the idea confused me a little too, until I thought about it more. The idea here is very Descartian. “I think, therefore I am.” And that can be the danger. If we think everything we write is terrible, that we’ll never succeed, that there are so many writers better than us, etc, etc, and worse, if we believe those thoughts, that we give them the power to be true. Likewise, if we think and believe we’re the best writer ever, we can do no wrong, publishers will be knocking down our doors and regretting every last one of those rejection letters, we’re likewise in trouble (and probably setting ourselves up for disappointment or a reality check.)
As writers, it’s our job to think about things and capture those thoughts and imaginings in words. We make our thoughts and dreams real all the time by creating our own worlds, people, and events. So therefore, maybe it’s little surprise that we run the risk of doing the same in our real lives if we believe random thoughts that pass through our head.
Our minds are constantly whirring away, reflecting on experiences, input from our senses. It’s natural that if we get a lot of negative input on our writing — think a barrage of rejection letters, or worse, no responses at all – that we’re going to experience some negative thoughts about our writing. The same can be true if you get rave reviews, or your critique partners adore the latest book: we may be more inclined to think, “gee, I’m pretty good at this writing thing.”
But really, what’s the difference between the negative and positive thoughts? Especially ones that are on opposite ends of the spectrum? Not a heck of a lot, since they’re just thoughts, just ideas. And so long as we let them flow through with perhaps a bit of reflection but nothing more, they do no harm. The harm comes when we seize and hold onto a particular thought, trapping it, wriggling and squirming to continue on its little thought-path down Idea River that we get a problem. Because if we make it tangible, it can have very tangible results.
Did you seize on a negative thought? One that told you there were many more writers more successful than you? Your scribbles will never amount to anything? You’ve spent too long trying to get published – it’s time to move on? What is the result? Well, maybe you become negative, focusing on that thought, and give up. You stop submitting your writing, don’t attend conferences, you ignore anything that could contradict that negative thought, and eventually you miss opportunities, close doors, and give up writing entirely.
Very well, you suggest. But what if the thought wasn’t so negative? What if you think you’re writing is really good, much better than so-and-so. Your grammar is perfect. Your style a delight. Everyone will love every word you write. Still a problem. First, because it seems like your head may be swelling to such a size that you’ll be impossible to live with. Second, because this business is always subjective: someone may love your writing, but not everyone will. Third, and worst, is that if you think you’re the best you can be, what will keep you moving forward? What will keep you improving and honing your craft?
So, let the thoughts pass by in Idea River, but let them keep floating. Some will be pleasant, some won’t be, but what’s important is your writing. Don’t let anything – especially yourself and your own thoughts – distract you from that fact.
I am always running out of time. It doesn’t seem to matter what I need to do, I never have enough time to do it. I’ve told my husband that we have so many things on our “to-do” list that if the length of the list determines the length of our lives, we can never die, because we can never possibly get everything done.
But time also affects my relationship to my writing. I wonder, why do I only have eight specified hours of time for writing per week, when the baby is being babysat? How long will it take me to finish revisions? How long will it take me to write a first draft of the next book? Can I do it faster, in less time? And of course, how long will it be before I’m published?
Time seems endless and sometimes cruel. It continues to march on, whether we try to stop it, whether we try to focus and savor every minute, or wait impatiently for the designated hour to approach. And as months pass too quickly, and years begin to do the same, time seems to be shifting away like sand through fingertips. I run out of time as I frantically try to chase after it, wishing I could hold back the hands of the clock, slow down the ticking, just get a few more hours each day. I wish for shortcuts, for secret paths to cut through the necessity of waiting, watching as more time escapes.
But here’s the thing. Time doesn’t care. It doesn’t care that we don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything we want done. And it doesn’t care how many years, how many books, it takes us to be published. It just is. Or, as some may suggest, time isn’t anything at all, other than something humans have created to divvy up our days, months, and years.
So if we accept that time is only a tool, an artificial creation by man, than that means it’s foolish to let it control us: we use tools, not the other way around. So therefore, time is useful to writing in remembering deadlines, in measuring your productivity if that’s important to you, in establishing internal time within the plots of your books. But time is otherwise meaningless to our writing. And it could hurt it.
Why do you write? Do you write because you have nothing better to do? Do you write because you decided to write for three hours a day, seven days a week, and because you’ll be published in three and a half years from the day you first started writing? Of course not. You have no idea when “The Call” will come, other than working with perseverance and consistency, and a belief that it will come, but when isn’t up to you, and doesn’t particularly matter to your writing.
What matters is getting one word after another onto the page. What matters is writing, hour after hour, day after day, year after year. And you write not to pass the time, but because your writing is important, because each time you write, you’re a bit outside of time. You decide and determine the time within your plots, you determine how quickly or how slowly you write, and your writing will exist after you, too.
So, as you write, don’t let the clock mock you, don’t let the calendar pages or the changing number of the year depress you. Use the clock so you remember to eat, remember to pick up your child from school. You will be published. When is uncertain, but you can’t let it worry you. For some it will take longer than others, and worrying about which group you fall into will only stilt your writing. What is certain is that in your writing, you always have enough time, you can freeze and start the clock whenever you choose, and you always remember that you control time, not the other way around.
What is time to you? How does it frustrate or help you? Let me know. Otherwise, thanks for reading, and have a great week.